Belief, Ritual, and Morality: part 2

The first part of the equation is belief and it’s pretty straightforward: it’s subjective and personal, communal or collective in the gathering of individuals with similar beliefs.

However, apart from the essential – the Gods exist and communicate with us – I don’t think it should form the basis of a religious community: not only is faith a naturally diverse thing, it’s also highly subjective, and this means that trying to create a uniform set of beliefs for a whole group of people equals confronting other’s free thinking with little if any chance of proving things in an objective fashion. After all, it’s not like you can put a God on a stage and ask Him to perform a few things so everyone can be sure beyond doubt that He’s X or Y, that His powers reach as far as A or B, or that His nature is W or Z. We all have our own ideas about these things, sure, but those answers come from personal experiences, UPG, feelings, hints and philosophies, not from more objective observation and experiment. To think otherwise is to go down the path Abraamic religions are so good at and claim to know the ultimate truth, that a sacred book knows better than science just because it says so or to that you have the authority to determine what people should believe in. Personal belief is just that: personal! And that’s how one should let it be.

This means rejecting the notion of orthodoxy, i.e., that there is a correct opinion when it comes to faith. Rather, one should accept it’s diversity: some believe the Gods are perfect Platonic ideas, others that They have passions and desires just like us; that They can die or are immortal, that They assume human forms or not, that They are many or few with different cultural manifestations, that deity A, B and C are the same or that Goddess Z has powers over this and that, while others may not believe in that. You don’t have to agree will all these things, you don’t have like them and you may even engage in some lively theological debate, but, in the end, agree to disagree and move one! Look for unity elsewhere, preferably in something that can be analyzed and double-checked by everyone or at least better than personal religious beliefs. A millennia and a half of Christian dominance should have taught us what happens when you seek unity in faith.

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2 thoughts on “Belief, Ritual, and Morality: part 2

  1. I like this post.

    I was actually mentioning to someone earlier that our personal explorations of Deity and spirituality are very much like the proverbial blind men and the elephant. There is room for us to be contradictory and still all be right in our own way. For example, I don’t expect others to share my own weird theories on the Vanir 😉 to worship Them, it matters more to me that They are given honour at all, especially Frey because He’s awesome and needs more love. The nature of the Divine is such that we will never know “the ultimate truth” for sure, we only know what we know from experience, and the Gods are individuals who deal with us individually. Orthodoxy is, to say the least, unnatural within a polytheistic system that contains multitudes.

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